That May night, I danced hard. Without shoes. There were never shoes. My tiny feet were black, sparkles of street detritus glinting upwards as I whirled in endless circles determined for my heart, my head, to connect with some distant promised spark in a galaxy far away.
The air was pungent with burning ganja and opiates and the sweat of other gyrating souls. They all pressed against me, took up too much space, hugged me like an overbearing and ugly uncle and made it much too difficult to breathe.
I knew I was going to pass out. That this would all end badly. I also really believed that as long as the notes found me, as long as I kept on spinning, as long as I kept on moving, there was no other reason to be alive.
You're either on the bus or you're not on the bus. If you miss the bus, you can find it again.
Sometimes, you just need one more show.
This night, that same air is thick with the sweat of a thousand souls with eyes silently watching. Some stand in lines outside soup kitchen doors that will not open until tomorrow morning. There's kindness and company in the waiting.
There are black souls astride curbs with carts and plastic bags stuffed with plastic bags, and others standing sentry in doorways, perfectly still, guards of the abandoned lives that once occupied all the rooms inside.
The air presses into water droplets and rolls into my eyes, blurring my vision with outside tears, washing the colors, giving everything a gaussian neon glow.
My professor has brought me here.
I'm wearing cool shoes and walking in straight lines and sharing stories with academics inside the cool comfort of airconditioned rooms in convention gatherings.
My head spins wildly, searching for words and sparks of brilliance, while I stand smiling, pefectly still.
I have to remember that I can still breathe and this will not end badly.
(I am still, and always will be, on the bus).